Praise and Poems
The real, the imagined, the past, the future, the dead and alive, figures from Irish mythology and the arts, irascible uncles and siblings, a bard, an unholy trinity, a shadowy father, the Clan MacFirbisig and a bellowing one-eyed bull – all have something trenchant, and at times contradictory, to say about the stages of Tony Frisby’s life in Me Me and Not Me. Or rather, ‘lives’, for no single voice dominates the proceedings, and the complex contrapuntal mesh of voices and opinions is one of the delights of this richly contoured epic poem in which motivations are laid bare, or perhaps artfully concealed. Variously thewed as litanies, lyrics, meditations, narrative, barking interjections and comedic interludes, ‘Me’ is driven by Frisby’s desire to question or at least come to terms with these differing peoples who have not only claimed squatter’s rights to a place in his thoughts but now demand a voice in his affairs – even the route to perdition. And all this against the backdrop of an irascible uncle Mikey who, less than pleased at being the object of such intense interest, is often moved to prick his nephew’s wordy conceit in no uncertain fashion:
“Stop dat highfalutin bollocks boy;
sure yer makin a holy show of de whole family…”
Extract from Frisby Me, Me and Not Me.
I can see us clearly, you sitting by the fire,
me kneeling at your feet as we unravel
a school jumper I’ve outgrown.
You’re smiling down at me while,
dreamlike, I splay my fingers
and with hands apart
duck and swoop, sway and twist
until skeins of wool fill our basket.
His masterpiece to date, Frisby’s Me Me and Not Me, is part meditation of the unselving we undergo when contemplating separation. From Oisin-like wanderings on the Sussex Downs, he has absorbed the poetics of his ‘new’ place and from a late Art History MA, an intense visual sense to which, in ‘Me’, he adds a tautness of language, of varietal shape, of knowingness and differing rhetorics to create an epic poem which ranges from innocence to duplicitous scheming and from confusion to a sort of enlightenment.
– Simon Jenner
With his trademark lyricism and humour, Tony Frisby challenges the very idea of self in Me, Me and Not Me. Digging deep into his imagination he conjures up sadistic teachers, classmates, a priest, his beloved Uncle Mikey plus many others to ask if they have made him who and whathe is. The answer, as ever, remains complicated but in ‘Me’ the manner
of its telling is a treat indeed.
– Domenica de Rosa
– Rosie Clarke
. . . a delight
a tribute to inspiration
helps us make sense of the unthinkable